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Peru's controversial goal knocks Brazil out of Copa America Centenario

Peru's controversial goal knocks Brazil out of Copa America Centenario Featured

Sports Written by  Monday, 13 June 2016 00:00 font size decrease font size increase font size
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It was a cruel sort of fate.

Nobody deserves to be eliminated from a major tournament on a blatant, intentional handball. Or by a badly botched call. Or an opponent's unapologetic cheating. Or the sport's idiotic stubbornness on instituting instant replay.

Or, in Brazil's case at this Copa America Centenario, all four.

On Sunday night, controversy engulfed the Selecao's 1-0 loss to Peru, which unexpectedly bounced the five-time World Cup winners from the tournament in the teams' Group B finale. With 15 minutes left, Raul Ruidiaz quite clearly used his right arm to slap the ball into the net from up close, when he couldn't get enough of his hip around the ball.

The video is fairly conclusive.

But referee Andres Cunha of Uruguay never consulted the video. Because the rules won't let him. Instead, he stopped the game for several minutes while he conferred with an assistant referee and somebody else – it's unclear who, but probably the fourth official – over his headset.

So the referee was done in by Ruidiaz's duplicity, and, under enormous duress from the Peruvian players and protestations from the Brazilians – whatever happened to the crackdown on encircling referees? – and he allowed the goal to stand.

Now, let's grant a few things to Peru, which will now takes on Colombia in Friday's quarterfinal in East Rutherford, N.J.

Firstly, the Peruvians were denied a quite legitimate penalty in the first half.

And secondly, Brazil was the beneficiary of just such a blown call in its first game against Ecuador on a howler by goalkeeper Alisson on his own goal line, when he redirected the ball into his own net. The own goal was ruled out because the ball was adjudged to have gone behind the end line, although video replay suggested it hadn't. It conserved a 0-0 tie.

It's also true that this was a crisis of Brazil's own making. Aside from the 7-1 thumping of an overpowered Haiti, Dunga's men looked flat and lifeless and fetid all tournament, failing to score in their two other games. Certainly, they were without the Olympics-bound Neymar and several other stars the head coach ostracized for various reasons. But they once again created no chances of note.

A mistaken referee decision, however, could have far-reaching effects on the course of Brazil's national team. Dunga seems more than likely to be fired. Which means an eventual turnaround in a once-proud side's flagging fortunes could be down to what is, today, a misfortune. Or its further decay could be caused be a mistake. Such is soccer.

But just maybe this grievous oversight, resulting from a continued dependence on human interpretation of a game so quick even video can barely capture it, will finally move the sport to do the right thing and implement video replay at long last.


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